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  • Rose Unwin

Melatonin rich foods for good sleep & good fertility

Sleep and fertility. Have you ever thought about how they relate to one another?


Sleep plays a vital role in all our lives, affecting the quality of life, overall health, and, importantly, fertility. Getting a good night’s sleep helps restore your brain and organ systems and regulate important hormones in your body – including fertility-related hormones.

In both men and women, the same part of the brain that regulates sleep-wake hormones (such as melatonin and cortisol) also triggers a daily release of reproductive hormones. The hormones that trigger ovulation in women and the sperm-maturation process in men may be tied into the body's sleep-wake patterns. For example, if you’re a woman, long-term lack of sleep may directly affect the release of luteinizing hormone, or LH — the hormone that triggers ovulation as part of regulating your menstrual cycle. The resulting menstrual irregularity may mean it takes longer for you to conceive.


What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a sleep-inducing hormone. It regulates your sleep-wake cycle and responds to light and darkness— more melatonin is produced when it gets dark to help you sleep, and less is produced as the sun rises and your eyes are exposed to light to help you wake up.

Melatonin production is mainly carried out in the pineal gland in the brain, it’s also produced in your gut and in most of your body’s cells. But it’s the melatonin that’s made in the pineal gland that regulates your circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle.

Did you know you can get melatonin from the foods you eat ? It’s true! Some foods are high in sleep-promoting compounds such as tryptophan, magnesium, and yes, melatonin. Eating these foods can help you get a better night’s sleep by naturally boosting your body’s melatonin level, but be careful— there are some foods you will want to avoid also.


What Foods Contain Melatonin?

Here are 10 foods that naturally contain melatonin:

Milk

A glass of warm milk is a well-known and common sleep remedy, and for good reason! Milk is one of the best dietary sources of melatonin. It also contains the amino acid tryptophan, which increases concentrations of melatonin and serotonin and helps you drift off to sleep easier. If you are vegan you may want to skip the milk, but fortunately there are plenty more choices for you.


Pistachios

Many nuts including cashews and almonds contain melatonin, but pistachios have a higher amount than the others. Pistachios are also high in vitamin B6, which helps convert tryptophan into melatonin. Pistachios are great sources of fibre, omega 3 fatty acids— which are linked to higher sleep quality— and antioxidants too.


Tart Cherries

As their name states, tart cherries are more sour than other sweeter cherries you can also find at the supermarket. Not only are they high in melatonin, but tart cherries are also rich in anti-inflammatory compounds that can help keep you healthy. Tart cherry juice is another way to consume it.


Fatty Fish

Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are not only melatonin-rich foods, but they’re also high in vitamin B6, omega 3 fatty acid, magnesium, and vitamin D— all of which are important to regulating serotonin, promoting healthy sleep, and promoting better function during the day. One study found that participants who ate salmon three times a week slept better and showed improved daytime functioning compared to participants who did not.


Rice

Not all carbs are created equal. While some carbohydrates like junk food or sugary beverages can potentially harm your sleep, rice notably does not. Its carbohydrate content is conducive to sleep, as well as its melatonin and tryptophan content.


Goji Berries

Goji berries are powerful sources of natural melatonin. Considered by many to be a superfood, these berries originally native to China are also rich in antioxidants, protein, and fibre. Goji berries may also help improve depression or anxious behaviour, which can also help sleep by calming your mind and allowing you to drift off more easily.


Oats

Like rice, oats are a “good” carbohydrate that can help lead to better sleep. Whole oats are a great source of melatonin, as well as tryptophan. Oats are also high in fibre, B vitamins, and lots of minerals.


Mushrooms

Mushrooms are rich in melatonin, and also contain tryptophan. They’re also great sources of protein, fibre, and antioxidants. Whether you like portabella mushrooms, button mushrooms, or their more exotic relatives, all kinds of mushrooms contain the same health and sleep benefits.


Corn

Whether you enjoy it off or on the cob, corn is another melatonin-rich food. Corn also contains tryptophan which is, of course, also conducive for sleep. Corn is also high in vitamin C, antioxidants, magnesium, and fibre.


Bananas

Bananas are an amazingly healthy fruit but sometimes get demonised by faddy health media due to their naturally occurring sugars. Bananas contain melatonin, tryptophan, vitamin B6, and magnesium, which are all great for producing serotonin and helping you sleep. Bananas are another “good” carb that can not only help you sleep, but feel more alert during the day. This is because bananas contain complex carbohydrates, which can give you energy all day long.


5 Foods to Avoid Before Bed

It might seem like a no-brainer to avoid certain foods before bed, such as caffeine and alcohol. But there are other foods that can ruin your sleep and you may not even realize it.


Try avoiding the following foods before you go to bed each night:


Spicy Food

Chocolate

Tomatoes

Pizza

Citrus Fruits



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